W. M. Keck Foundation announces successful completion of distinguished young scholars programDecember 18, 2009
Los Angeles, CA. December 17, 2009: The W. M. Keck Foundation, a leading supporter of pioneering medical research, science and engineering, today announced the successful completion of its Distinguished Young Scholars Program, a groundbreaking initiative created to give the nation's most promising young scientists the resources they need to pursue potentially breakthrough research projects in biomedical research.
Established as a five-year program in 1999, the W. M. Keck Foundation renewed the program for additional years in 2004 and 2008. During its 11-year span, the program has awarded nearly $55 million to 54 of America's most promising scientists, many of whom have gone on to publish pioneering work and assume leadership positions in the field.
"The results from our Young Scholars program have been extraordinary," said Robert A. Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, W. M. Keck Foundation. "The achievements of our Young Scholars have exceeded our very high expectations. We have also been pleased by other sources of funding now available to support young investigators. We are pleased to be able to direct our resources towards new areas of opportunity and inquiry and remain committed to the support of young investigators."
Since the W. M. Keck Foundation first addressed the funding opportunity for early-career investigators in 1999, two notable funding programs emerged to provide similar support to young investigators. These are: the Director's New Innovators Award from the National Institutes of Health, which began in 2007; and the Early Career Scientist awards, a $200 million program launched by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2008.
Dr. Thomas E. Everhart, Senior Scientific Advisor to the W. M. Keck Foundation, said "The Keck Foundation led the way in providing generous and flexible funding to support the research of promising young investigators after it determined that such targeted, catalytic support was needed. Because the Young Scholars Scientific Advisory Committee helped identify the best and the brightest through a rigorous selection process, the Keck Young Scholars program has helped to propel the careers of 54 of America's young investigators forward. The W. M. Keck Foundation should be commended for the Young Scholars program and for its ongoing leadership in support of breakthrough achievements in science, medicine and engineering."
Several grant recipients commented on the impact of the program:
- Amy Pasquinelli, [Ph.D.], University of California, San Diego: "Other grant programs are often just extensions of existing projects. With Keck support, I could pursue a completely new branch of work and think large."
- Xi He, Ph.D., Harvard University: "The Keck award gave me the freedom to explore new techniques and avenues for research. Two of the projects I initiated with Keck support are now funded by the National Institutes of Health. The Keck award played an extremely important role in advancing my career."
- Catherine Simpson Woolley, [Ph.D.], Northwestern University: "It is hard for investigators to branch out of their fields. The Keck award was large enough to allow me to undertake a whole new project in the lab. There is no question that the Keck award has had a beneficial effect on my career."
- Mark Gerstein, [Ph.D.], Yale University: "I published a paper in the journal Cell with another Keck Scholar, Judith Frydman of Stanford University. Everything in that paper stems from our meeting at one of the Keck Young Scholars annual symposia. The paper is a fusion of disciplines and completely derived from the work supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation."
-end-The W.M. Keck Foundation continues to welcome grant applications that emphasize high-risk projects, which include or are initiated by early career scientists under its grant programs for Science and Engineering and Medical Research.
For further details on grant programs and the W.M. Keck Foundation, please visit the website: www.wmkeck.org.
W. M. Keck Foundation
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